When you’re a Jet!

One of the many things I love about my husband is that he gets my jokes and thinks they’re funny.

So recently I started folding my car key closed before putting it in my coat pocket because the pointy metal part of the actual physical key had begun poking a hole through the seam, and I do NOT need that hole to open up big enough for my keys to fall through and disappear. I’ve already resewn that seam once and will do so again as soon as school ends and I have time.

Meanwhile, though, I noticed while walking to my car after work one recent evening that the way my key pops out is kind of similar to the way a switchblade knife springs open. (P.S. – This video of me opening my key is from my brand new YouTube channel. I realized that sometimes people couldn’t play video I uploaded to my blog straight from my phone, so I “published” this on YouTube first and then embedded it in my post.)

Hmm, side note: I just checked Google, and apparently switchblades are now called “automatic knives.” Sounds much less threatening. When I was in junior high, there was a paperback book making the rounds (i.e., we all loaned it from person to person to person until no one really knew who the book’s actual owner was anymore) called The Cross and the Switchblade. I just looked it up and discovered that a movie version came out shortly before I entered junior high, so maybe that’s why the book was so popular at my school like ten years after it was first published. Anyway, that title always captured my imagination. It sounded really scary! I can hardly imagine the book achieving any kind of sales numbers or a movie adaptation with a title like The Cross and the Automatic Knife 🙂

So back to my sweetheart of a husband who always thinks my jokes are funny. When I got home, I told him about how I’d noticed that my key looked like a switchblade and said, “I felt like a Jet walking to my car. Or maybe a Shark.” And bless his heart, he laughed and I felt really clever and funny. Which . . . probably I really was not. But on a day to day basis, don’t we all want to be married to someone who gets us and makes us feel good?

Anyway, then we started talking about West Side Story and realized that the movie came out SIXTY YEARS AGO!!!! It  won ten Academy Awards, including the Oscar for Best Picture. Here’s the amazing opening dance sequence just because I love it and felt like watching it again. (Now you can watch it, too!)

When I went to look up the movie to verify that it was indeed sixty years old, I was surprised to learn that a new version of the film, directed by Steven Spielberg, no less, will be released in early December. Apparently it was supposed to have come out this past December but then was postponed till this year because of the pandemic. Which actually very nicely coincides with the sixtieth anniversary of the original West Side Story. And speaking of coinciding with the original film, Rita Moreno (who won Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1961 film) has a part in the new movie, too.

So that’s all for today. Just a blog post following along on a random chain of thoughts generated by my somewhat idle observation that my car key flipped open like a switchblade.

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
This entry was posted in Life, Movies and film, Popular culture and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to When you’re a Jet!

  1. Sally Cissna says:

    “The Cross and the Automatic Knife” made me laugh right out loud! I had heard that West Side Story was being rereleased…I think there were commercials during the academy awards…maybe. I wonder if it will be a musical. I’ll have to look it up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. paulrwaibel says:

    When I taught at Trinity College in Deerfield, IL, one of my colleagues was a former gang member whose gang fought Nicky Cruz’s gang. Nicky Cruz is a key figure in the book, The Cross and the Switchblade. As for West Side Story, I’ve never seen a remake of a classic that I thought as good as the original.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, it’s truly a small world, isn’t it? I’m not sure why anyone would try to remake West Side Story, either. I suppose Spielberg’s version will be more realistic, but that opening dance sequence in the original is pure magic, even if somewhat dated and stylized.


  3. MELewis says:

    ‘Don’t we all want to be married to someone who gets us and makes us feel good?’ – YES! Good reminder, along with the Jets. Loved the original, and will watch out for the Spielberg film. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember reading a line in Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist many years ago that went something like: It isn’t so much who the other person is as much as who you are when you’re with them. I always liked that, don’t know exactly why. Of course it matters who the other person is! They are important for themselves, for who they are, and not just as a widget to help you be who you want to be. Yet it also does seem true that we become different versions of ourselves with different people, and some people are far better for us than others❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. mworfolk says:

    Aww, I love that your husband laughed at your joke. That’s always a good thing.

    And I can’t believe West Side Story is 60!!

    I saw an amazing production of WSS about 20 years ago mounted in the parking lot of our local university (yes, there was a proper set but it was theatre under the stars—something my city doesn’t do often). I still remember it all these years later.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sounds like a really imaginative staging of the musical. I love it when plays, art, concerts, etc., are found in places other than the familiar settings. In the town I grew up in, there was an amphitheater built into some limestone cliffs. I remember seeing Carmen there when I was a kid. And drinking my first-ever Mountain Dew from the concession stand, now that I think about it. I’ll never forget the horrifying moment where Don José stabbed Carmen as I sipped my strangely sweet yellow soft drink in the darkness of a summer night. Which, of course, I’d actually completely forgotten about until your parking lot play reminded me😂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. 60 years!!!! I saw that as a child. Oh my. guess I’m old.

    Liked by 1 person

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